CRANTOCK BEACH IN JUNE


Can you actually believe this in the UK? Summer finally made an appearance for our weekend in Cornwall and the bright sunshine brought out the amazing colours of Crantock Beach. It's hard to believe it's the exact same spot where I snapped these moody photos back in February.


I took these photos at midday when the sun was blazing using the landscape setting on my camera. They may look a little over-saturated, but they actually captured the amazing azure hues of the sea at super-low tide pretty accurately. I like the pictures below with the miniature people playing in the surf - I think I was inspired by Gray Malin's beach scenes (luckily the beach wasn't as busy!!).





ANOTHER WEEKEND IN CORNWALL

I’ve just come back from another weekend in Cornwall at my parents’ place. We had amazing weather, awesome food and just the right balance of hiking and swimming. A perfect weekend in my book! If you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen most of these pictures already. 










MINI LEMON & BLACKBERRY CAKES



I keep going back and forth between opening a made-to-order cake business or not, so I recently purchased a load of shiny new tins and I've been testing different recipes. These mini lemon cakes just use my easy lemon drizzle recipe, with a blackberry popped into the batter before going in the oven, but using a friand pan to create mini, individual cakes makes them that little bit more special, don't you think? I realise that these pictures are basically all the same...but choosing your favourite cake picture is like choosing between a little of puppies, am I right (not really...but sort of).




RECIPE

Weigh 3 (cracked) free-range eggs – the weight in grams dictates the quantities of the other ingredients, so a set of electric scales is useful for this. Whatever the eggs weigh, you will use the same number in grams of self-raising flour, butter and caster sugar - capiche?

If your eggs weigh 150g (the approximate weight of 3 medium-sized eggs), your recipe will be:

3 free-range eggs
150g self-raising flour
150g softened butter
150g caster sugar
Blackberries
Juice and zest of 2 un-waxed lemons
A few tablespoons of caster sugar

Heat the oven to 180C/356F/gas mark 4. Mix together the butter and sugar – you can use a hand-mixer, but a good old wooden spoon is my tool of choice. Add the flour and eggs and mix until you get a smooth, thick batter. Add the lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon.

Grease a round cake tin with butter or line a muffin tray with paper cases. I used a friand pan to make these cute mini cakes and put about a tablespoon into each case – this recipe makes about 12 to 15 small cakes. Press a blackberry – or blueberry, raspberry, etc. – into the top of each cake.
For a cake tin, bake for about 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. My mini cakes took between 15 – 20 minutes.

While the cakes are still in their tin, mix together the remaining lemon juice and caster sugar, prick the cakes all over with a toothpick and pour the syrup over the top. Leave for at least 10 minutes to cool slightly in the tin.

These are amazing warm with a dollop of cream, but also deliciously moist once cooled and will keep for a few days in an airtight container.


THE FLOWER APPRECIATION SOCIETY



Last Tuesday I went to a flower workshop with The Flower Appreciation Society and it was THE BEST EVENING EVER. The sun was shining at Ellie and Anna's Hackney studio which is the cutest workshop filled to the brim with pickle jars, swan vases, crazy props from their studio-mate and flowers, of course. The tables were filled with huge jars of flowers, ready to be arranged into the haphazard style of my favourite floral duo and after a quick introduction and a whistle stop tour of the basics, we got stuck in.



Ellie and Anna make it look SO easy but it definitely takes a lot of practice! Within the first few minutes I had cramp in my hand and had to start again a few times, but it was so much fun and the other girls in the group of 24 were all lovely and chatty. I made a beeline for my jar after spotting that incredible peach rose in the pictures above. The workshop was themed around British Flowers Week so all the flowers came from UK growers and smelled incredible. I've never smelt anything like it! My bouquet is still going strong and I'm so smitten with it I've been bringing it around the house with me so I can look at it when I'm eating breakfast, watching telly or drifting off to sleep.


The workshop perfectly coincided with the launch of The Flower Appreciation Society: An A to Z of All Things Floral. From how to tie a bridal bouquet and favourite filler flowers to quick interviews with Ellie and Anna's regular market stallholders, I would really recommend it if you have any interest in flowers or cool illustrations (everything is illustrated by Anna!).

Workshops pop up on their site from time to time and you can book them for a hen do flower crown workshop too. The cost of my workshop was £35, which covered all materials, a jar to take them home with and a glass of wine too! You'd pay the same for a bouquet from a florist and I think this is prettier than anything I've ever seen before.






#LOVEYOURLEFTOVERS


Leftovers are probably my favourite thing about cooking; I usually cook extra on purpose so that I can have leftovers the next day, and it's probably the best way of keeping our weekly food budget down. My favourite thing about leftovers is the way you can transform last night's dinner into something different to eat the next day, so you don't feel like you're munching on the same thing over and over again. Here are my favourite tips for loving your leftovers:

PUT AN EGG ON IT
In my opinion, everything tastes better with an egg on it. Whether boiled or fried, a lovely free range egg can turn a plate of leftover vegetables into a hearty hot supper. Likewise, putting your leftovers in an egg works well too - I love folding leftover chopped salsa into a spicy Bombay omelette.

MAKE SOUP
If you've made a curry or stew, add stock the next day to turn it into a soup. This works really well for Asian dishes and even last night's takeaway! Just add a little boiling water or stock and throw in a handful of rice noodles if you don't have any rice left. I like taking tupperware pots of curry to work and adding water before microwaving.

FEED AN ARMY
Always, always make extras. I find slow cooked sauces often taste better the next day when they've had a chance to infuse overnight. If you can't face eating the same packed lunch every day for a week, freeze into individual portions to be used in emergencies to stop you reaching for supermarket ready meals.

SWITCH IT UP
I think some people throw away extra food because they just don't want to eat the same thing two days in a row. If you don't fancy the idea of the same dinner two days running, think about how you can turn it on its head. Leftover roast chicken becomes fajitas, pie filling or stir fry fodder or you could try noodles or rice wrapped up in lettuce leaves with lots of lovely herbs and chilli sauce.

My go-to leftovers recipes: 
A frittata, of course, which tastes perfect hot or cold
Bon Appetit's chicken khao soi to take to work as a noodle pot the next day
My easy meatballs or Deliciously Ella's lentil bolognese to fill the freezer
Pulled pork, to be made into wraps, salads, sandwiches and more
The easiest pilau rice (definitely put an egg on it!)
Siobhan's butternut squash soup - super fresh with lots of lime
Jamie Oliver's veggie chilli with plenty of coriander and an avocado

WORDS TO LIVE BY: heck yes



Are you a 'yes' person? My friend Che lent me a book called The Luck Factor, a scientific study into why some people are 'luckier' than others. Well, my friends, I definitely think it's worth a read! I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it's a self-help book or that it's an instant cure for unlucky types, but I have to say it was certainly interesting.

The author's premise is that being lucky is a personality type and that people who are perceived to be lucky are people who lead more open lives - open to new experiences, open to taking risks and open to meeting people and broadening their horizons. I found myself nodding along as I read, mostly because I feel like I already lead my life in the way that Wiseman suggests enhances luck and, yes, I do think I've been lucky. What I think the book really aims to do is lead the reader to believe that they can change their luck and he really puts the onus on the readers to do it for themselves. Taking charge of the things you aren't happy and taking things into your own hands means you can change your perception of luck and instead of forever lamenting other people for being lucky or believe that things come easily to others, you can take ownership of your direction.

I know this is all starting to sound a bit preachy but I suppose what I'm trying to say is that saying 'yes' is the first step to making a change. Whether it's yes to trying something new for breakfast, yes to going out of your way to help someone or yes to applying for a job that scares you...it's a word we could all be using a little bit more. What will you say yes to this weekend?

WE'RE GOING TO JAPAN!


Darren and I just booked flights to go to Japan in September and I'm starting to get unbelievably excited! I was a little hesitant at first - we would have to save a lot of money to go and really do all of the things that we want to do, and I was being grumpy thinking of the beach holiday we could be enjoying for half the price. I have a slightly strange relationship with Japan, having lived in Tokyo for 4 years, and it wasn't somewhere I was jumping to visit again, but after getting a great deal on flights (shout out to Turkish Airlines!) and finding some really nice, reasonably-priced Airbnb apartments, I've definitely warmed to the idea and all it takes to get super excited is to think about all the amazing food we're going to eat because, let's face it, my holiday choices are always driven by my appetite.

The trip feels extra special because I have a couple of friends living over there - I don't get to see them very often (obviously) and they'll be great tour guides so we can properly experience things like locals. One of the weekends we are there is a public holiday so we might even rent a beach house for a few days - can you believe that picture above is only a few hours from Tokyo?


Have you been to Japan before? We are pretty sorted in terms of things we want to do in Tokyo, where we'll probably spend most of our time, but we will be away for 2 1/2 weeks in total which gives us plenty of time to explore a little bit further afield as well. We're hoping to spend a few days in Kyoto and also a night in a traditional ryokan, but I'd love to know if anyone has any more suggestions for towns and cities to visit. Please link if you have any blog posts to share!

{images via Pinterest}
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